PARIS &

Rafael Nadal improved to 23-0 at the French Open by defeating Nicolas Devilder of France 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 today in the second round.




The second-seeded Nadal was leading 5-0 in the second set when rain returned to Roland Garros for the fourth time in five days and interrupted the match. When they came back on court, Nadal broke Devilder to take a two-set lead and then jumped out to another 5-0 lead in the third.




"The second and third sets were very good," Nadal said. "What's really important is that I'm in the third (round) and improving with each match."




Top-seeded Roger Federer was also playing in the second round.




Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic reached the third round in the women's field, one easing through her match and the other playing through pain.




The eighth-seeded Williams used a six-game run to beat 241st-ranked qualifier Selima Sfar of Tunisia 6-2, 6-4. Jankovic, seeded third and a semifinalist at Roland Garros last year, was bothered by a right arm injury but defeated Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-2, 7-6 (5).




Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, a two-time Grand Slam champion seeded 22nd, lost to Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 6-4. American James Blake lost to 19-year-old Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.




"I wasn't going for the shots the way I normally do," Blake said.




Top-seeded Roger Federer and three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal were playing in the second-round matches when rain interrupted play.




No. 19 Alize Cornet, No. 26 Flavia Pennetta, No. 27 Katarina Srebotnik and No. 28 Dominika Cibulkova all advanced.




On the men's side, sixth-seeded David Nalbandian lost, falling to Jeremy Chadry of France 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. No. 15 Mikhail Youzhny and No. 30 Dmitry Tursunov advanced to the third round.




Devilder, who broke Nadal once in the first set, held his serve in the sixth game of the third set, running the Spaniard all over the court and tapping a volley into an empty space. As the crowd cheered, the Frenchman raised his hands over his head to celebrate.




But six points later, Nadal was into the third round.




Nadal has won the last three French Open titles, defeating Federer in the final the last two years. He is trying to become the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1978-81 to win the clay-court Grand Slam tournament four years in a row.




Mauresmo, who missed the Italian and German Opens because of a rib injury, finished with 38 unforced errors and was broken five times.




"Frankly, I don't know what to say right now, because there was nothing much on my side, apart from a few games in which I was slightly more aggressive and not letting her play that game that much," Mauresmo said. "It's a bit difficult for me to analyze all this. And all I can say is that I feel sorry about the way I played."




Williams trailed 2-1 after being broken early in the first set, but she didn't drop another game until leading 1-0 in the second set. The American made 16 more unforced errors than Sfar, but made up for that with strong play at the net. Williams won the point on 24 of her 35 trips forward.




"It's really nothing planned. I just really feel comfortable at the net, and I don't know why. I just do. I like it up there, so I do try to get there when I can," said Williams, who lost the 2002 French Open final to her younger sister Serena. "It's just finally kicked in. I should always have been there, years ago."




Williams will play No. 26 Flavia Pennetta, who eliminated 16-year-old qualifier Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.




Jankovic called for a trainer after holding to lead 3-2 in the second set.




"It started gradually, little by little," the 23-year-old Serb told the trainer after grimacing through a massage. "It's humid, and the balls are big and heavy. We're not used to it."




Jankovic refused to get a bandage on her arm.




"I don't want tape because I cannot play with tape. Just massage it," Jankovic said. "I prefer to play with the pain."




Jankovic broke in the next game to take a 4-2 lead, but Erakovic broke back to 4-3 and held to 4-4. At 5-all, the pair again traded breaks, and the New Zealander led 5-3 in the tiebreaker but Jankovic won the final four points to advance.